We asked parents for signs of sleepiness and sleep tips for their children and for themselves. Here are some helpful sleep tips from parents who know!
"My daughter has always gotten a case of the hiccups when she is tired. That's a clear sign that we need to get her to bed fast! Another sign is when it's late and she begins to pontificate at length about important matters. She gets very deep!"
S.I., New York, NY
"Crankiness! Or the sillies. But quite often my girls ask, 'Can I go to sleep now?'"
L.J., New York, NY
"There's always the old rubby eyes!"
M.G., Brooklyn, NY
"We tell the 'Story of the Day' backwards, starting from lying in bed and hearing the current sounds, going to brushing teeth and all the previous events of the day and ending with waking up and before that being fast asleep, so comfy, cozy and cuddly. Then I tell her I love her in our own secret way. If our daughter is not asleep by then, I'll sing her a lullaby. Now that she's older, she demands that I make up a brand new lullaby every night. That'll keep my chops up!"
- H.S., New York, NY
"I would say beyond a story and an occasional song or two with the kids at bedtime, I have worked with my kids on the importance of deep breathing. Especially when we are in our harried schedules and school, it is so effective to take that time to do 10-15 slow and full breaths to calm the energy. I find it sends them (and me!) to dreamland much faster and peacefully."
- C.L., New York, NY
"My daughter is 10 now, and recently I've been stretching her before bed. She's very tight in the hamstrings and calf muscles. She loves it! When she was younger, she used to demand these things at bedtime: a good back scratch with fingernails; a song; reading to her. Not in that order. Now she's asking me for stories from my childhood. Sometimes she talks in her sleep. Very clear voice, completely incomprehensible words!"
- N.N., Brooklyn, NY
"When my daughter was very little, I started a game to settle her down; I would say to her:
All the aardvarks are asleep
All the bears are asleep
All the cougars are asleep, etc.
And I would work my way through the alphabet and she would usually nod off.
As she got older she would say it with me, requesting certain animals and then, one day, we started alternating letters, taking turns. Then we started changing the topic away from only animals to
All the Albatross are asleep
All the Blue Birds are asleep
All the Cardinals are asleep
All the Dill is asleep
All the Eggplants are asleep
All the Fennel is asleep
She is nine now and it is still very fun and pleasant and comforting to settle down with this game. All bets are off too--sometimes now it goes more like:
All the Grass is asleep
All the Hammer Head Sharks are asleep
All the Ice Cream Cones are asleep
It is always fun to see who gets stuck with "X" or "Q" and what they can come up with. (By the way, there is a type of squirrel called a Xerus!)"
-T.J.S., New York, NY
"My girls' sleep ritual has always involved both reading and music. I read a book to them for about 15 minutes, then I play some 'sleepy music' until they drop off.
My own routine involves playing my turns in Scrabble on my iPhone, then reading."
- L.J., New York, NY
"The only thing that can get me to stop the mind chatter and get me to sleep is going over my day in excruciating detail. So, I start from my first steps out of bed, going to the bathroom, making coffee, taking a shower, etc. I try to remember each thing I did in vivid detail. I'm usually asleep by the time I get to the "leaving for work" part."
- P.L., St. Petersburg, FL
"I take my kids through a body scan. We start at our feet. I ask if their feet are hot or cold, buzzy, achy, etc. Then we check in with our legs, our hips, our bellies, chests, backs, etc. up our body until we get to the top of our heads. Sometimes they are asleep before we get there. If they're not, I invite them to relax the top of their heads, their foreheads, their eyebrows and eyelids and we make our way back down the body from there. It's effective most of the time! I do this for myself, too."
- L.G., New York, NY
©2014 Heidi Siegell